Dietary Patterns in Early Childhood and the Risk of Childhood Overweight: The GECKO Drenthe Birth Cohort

O. Sirkka, M. Fleischmann, M. Abrahamse-Berkeveld, J. Halberstadt, M.R. Olthof, J.C. Seidell, E. Corpeleijn

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Limited and inconsistent evidence exists on the associations between dietary patterns and overweight during childhood. The present study describes dietary patterns of three-year-old Dutch children and associations between childhood overweight and body mass index (BMI) development between 3 and 10 years. In the GECKO Drenthe birth cohort (N = 1306), body height and weight were measured around the age of 3, 4, 5, and 10 years, and overweight was defined according to Cole and Lobstein. A validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was used to measure diet at 3 years. Dietary patterns were derived using principal components analysis (PCA). Using logistic regression analyses, pattern scores were related to overweight at 3 and 10 years. A linear mixed-effect model was used to estimate BMI-SDS development between 3 to 10 years according to quartiles of adherence to the pattern scores. Two dietary patterns were identified: (1) ‘minimally processed foods’, indicating high intakes of vegetables/sauces/savory dishes, and (2) ‘ultra-processed foods’, indicating high intakes of white bread/crisps/sugary drinks. A 1 SD increase in the ‘ultra-processed foods’ pattern score increased the odds of overweight at 10 years (adjusted OR: 1.30; 95%CI: 1.08, 1.57; p = 0.006). The ‘minimally processed foods’ pattern was not associated with overweight. Although a high adherence to both dietary patterns was associated with a higher BMI-SDS up to 10 years of age, a stronger association for the ‘ultra-processed foods’ pattern was observed (p < 0.001). A dietary pattern high in energy-dense and low-fiber ultra-processed foods at 3 years is associated with overweight and a high BMI-SDS later in childhood.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2046
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Issue number6
Early online date15 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Working title: Dietary patterns, growth and infant feeding.


Funding: The GECKO Drenthe birth cohort was funded by an unrestricted grant of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., Hong Kong, and supported by the University of Groningen, Well Baby Clinic Foundation Icare, Noordlease, Paediatric Association Of The Netherlands, Youth Preventive Health Care Drenthe, and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (LifeCycle, Grant Agreement No. 733206 LifeCycle). The funding bodies had no role in the design of the study, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, or in writing the manuscript.

FundersFunder number
Well Baby Clinic Foundation Icare
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme733206
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Hutchison Whampoa Limited


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